You may be familiar with the CSAO (Compagnie du Sénégal et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest), their pillows and products in waxprint or Liberty print fabrics, embroidered with messages and promoting artists and craftspeople from Senegal and West Africa? You may have visited already their Parisian store? But do you know the story behind the scene: a family driven, altruist, human story.
Created in Senegal in 1995 by the French Valérie Schlumberger, the ASAO (Association du Sénégal et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) is a non-profit organization promoting and supporting social projects in Dakar and Gorée -an island off Dakar’s coast- and encouraging local people to use their knowledge and skills.
It grew over the years and today, it has two embroidery workshops which follow fair-trade principles where women work in good conditions, at their own pace, doing things they like. For some of them, this is a way to become financially independent from their husbands. For others, it is a way to reintegrate into society.
Embroidery is an ancestral tradition throughout West Africa, especially in Senegal. In the past, little girls learned to embroider to know how to embellish their future home and create their “trousseau”. By creating the embroidery workshops, the CSAO has brought new life to this noble tradition. The women embroiderers learn, after a long apprenticeship, with patience and meticulousness, to handle needles, threads and colors. Once this know-how is acquired, the principle of the unique piece gives a great place to their creativity and the pride of a job well done. Each finished cushion is paid for them the same day. Each cushion sold is therefore a unique piece in every sense of the word. We can see each woman's smile, their rigor and their creativity. This is what the Csao has always supported
Born and raised in Senegal, Ondine Saglio, the daughter of Valérie, is carrying on what her mother started, developing the CSAO activity and thus creating several jobs in Senegal. In the past years, she has brought CSAO to new heights with multiple attractive collaborations with renowned brands and retailers around the world.
She loves working with the amazing CSAO/ASAO teams and the talented embroiderers, where her roots are –in between Paris & Senegal-, on meaningful and ethical projects.
”Amour”, “Bonheur” and of course “Belle Vie”, the name of our brand, are all sweet words that were delicately embroidered by those talented women on the pillows we are proudly offering to you.
We are very happy to promote such a human brand and to participate to the emancipation of women.
We hope that you will feel how special those products are, much more than a piece of fabric with a nice embroidery.